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27 Jul 1952
Helsinki 1952

Versatile Chudina takes three medals from three events

The Soviet Union's Aleksandra Chudina could lay claim to being the most versatile athlete in Helsinki. Indeed she was one of the most multi-talented athletes the world of sport has ever seen, achieving an international standard of competing not just in high jump, long jump and javelin, but also in speed skating, pentathlon and volleyball.

Her athletics career started just after the end of the Second World War, when she took silver in the high jump at the 1946 European Championships. Eight years later, she returned to the European arena to win a gold medal in the pentathlon and silver in the long jump, while also finishing fifth in the javelin and sixth in the high jump.

But could she demonstrate her incredible versatility on the biggest stage of all? In Helsinki, she answered that question in emphatic style.

Chudina entered three events: the high jump, long jump and javelin. First up was the long jump, which proved to be a close-run contest between the Soviet athlete and New Zealand’s Yvette Williams. Chudina led after the first two rounds, but Williams then produced a jump that was 10cm longer and, try as she did, Chudina could not better that mark, so had to settle for silver.

Next up was javelin. Despite breaking the Olympic record with her first throw, Chudina was out of the medal positions after four of the six rounds. Then, with her penultimate attempt, she moved up to third place and stayed there until the end to earn another place on the podium.

Finally came the high jump, where her clearance at 1.63m was enough to secure another bronze medal. Having entered three contrasting and technically demanding events, Chudina had remarkably won three medals.

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